Nine Boston Celtics players are shooting 30 percent or better from 3-point range this season. The player who hoisted Boston’s final 3-pointer Tuesday night is not among them.
That’d be Marcus Smart, whose 26-footer with 0.9 seconds remaining clanged off the rim at Staples Center, allowing the Los Angeles Lakers to escape with a 108-107 win.
Here’s how the final five seconds unfolded following two Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed free throws:
The Celtics had no timeouts remaining, so they were in scramble mode. Yet it looked like Smart had a few options, including an initial outlet pass to Terry Rozier, a swing pass to Jayson Tatum on the far wing and a feed to a curling Kyrie Irving at the top of the key.
Instead, Smart, who’s shooting 29.9 percent from distance this season, kept the ball and took the final shot. So, what was going through his mind after snagging the rebound?
“We think (Caldwell-Pope) is going to at least make one (free throw),” Smart said after the game, via MassLive.com’s Jay King. “We had a play set up. He missed, so everybody’s scrambling. It is frustrating, but we work on those plays, and you’ve got to be a basketball player and try to make a play.”
Al Horford was the first to address the elephant in the room: The C’s obviously would have preferred Irving have the ball in his hands instead of Smart.
“I would tell you upfront, I want, if we can, get the ball to Kyrie,” Horford said. “His ability to create and do things, it’s great.”
Irving never really was involved in the play, though, and gave a diplomatic if slightly cool answer when asked about the final seconds.
“We were down by one at one point, so (Smart) felt like he had a good look,” Irving said. “We’ve got to live with the results after that.
“We have end-of-game plays that we’re prepared for, but in basketball, decisions are made and as a team, we collectively have to live with the results. Tough shot at the end. Marcus took one and that’s that.”
For his part, head coach Brad Stevens said Smart’s shot was “OK,” and that the guard “got a pretty clean look at it.”
Would the C’s rather have someone like Irving or Jayson Tatum — or any player on the court not named Smart — get the last look? Probably. But they’ll need a short memory, as they’re right back in action Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers with the chance to snap a four-game losing streak.
Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images